The weather problems have made it difficult for many members of the House of Lords to get in today – those travelling long distances have not been able to find trains or – even if there were trains – get to their stations in some rural areas. As a result, attendance is sparse and we are at a critical stage in consideration of the Banking Bill: the Bill is in Report – the stage when traditionally most of the key votes on amendments take place.
The Bill provides a statutory framework for Government intervention in failing banks and changes the objectives of the Bank of England so as to place an obligation on it to promote financial stability. it is clearly a vital piece of his year’s legistative programme for the Government.
There have been two votes so far today: the first was won by the Government with a margin of twenty; and the second has just resulted in a tied vote (84 content; 84 not content) so the Tory amendment was not passed and in effect the Government won. So as the temperature drops below freezing outside, the Whips are rushing round trying to make sure that no Labour Peer who has made it in tries to go home early.
Meanwhile, the pathway in front of the House of Lords entrance is an ice-rink because of – I am told – a dispute between Westminster City Council and Parliamentary authorities as to who is responsible for gritting it.